Differential control of human Treg and effector T cells in tumor immunity by Fc-engineered anti-CTLA-4 antibody

Ha, D., Tanaka, A., Kibayashi, T. et al.

Anti-CTLA-4 mAb is efficacious in enhancing tumor immunity in humans. CTLA-4 is expressed by conventional T cells upon activation and by naturally occurring FOXP3+CD4+ Treg cells constitutively, raising a question of how anti-CTLA-4 mAb can differentially control these functionally opposing T cell populations in tumor immunity. Here we show that FOXP3high potently suppressive effector Treg cells were abundant in melanoma tissues, expressing CTLA-4 at higher levels than tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells. Upon in vitro tumor-antigen stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy individuals or melanoma patients, Fc-region-modified anti-CTLA-4 mAb with high antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and cellular phagocytosis (ADCP) activity selectively depleted CTLA-4+FOXP3+ Treg cells and consequently expanded tumor-antigen-specific CD8+T cells. Importantly, the expansion occurred only when antigen stimulation was delayed several days from the antibody treatment to spare CTLA-4+ activated effector CD8+T cells from mAb-mediated killing. Similarly, in tumor-bearing mice, high-ADCC/ADCP anti-CTLA-4 mAb treatment with delayed tumor-antigen vaccination significantly prolonged their survival and markedly elevated cytokine production by tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells, whereas antibody treatment concurrent with vaccination did not. Anti-CTLA-4 mAb modified to exhibit a lesser or no Fc-binding activity failed to show such timing-dependent in vitro and in vivo immune enhancement. Thus, high ADCC anti-CTLA-4 mAb is able to selectively deplete effector Treg cells and evoke tumor immunity depending on the CTLA-4-expressing status of effector CD8+ T cells. These findings are instrumental in designing cancer immunotherapy with mAbs targeting the molecules commonly expressed by FOXP3+ Treg cells and tumor-reactive effector T cells.


Ha, D., Tanaka, A., Kibayashi, T. et al. "Differential control of human Treg and effector T cells in tumor immunity by Fc-engineered anti-CTLA-4 antibody" PNAS (2018): 609–18